Message From The CEO:
Peace of Mind Every Step of the Way
On March 6th 1994 I received some news that forever changed my family’s life. My pediatrician told me he suspected that my son had autism. I had felt that something was going on with my son but I couldn’t quite figure it out. He wasn’t reaching the milestones that my daughter had reached. He was approaching two years old and was not saying “mom” yet. He pointed at items instead of calling them by name and he wasn’t answering to his name. He would actually run away from me. He would cover his ears at baseball games and shirt tags made him uncomfortable. After a difficult journey through the healthcare maze, he was properly diagnosed with a “ sensory regulatory disorder”.
That was almost 21 years ago when the healthcare field was still trying to figure out what that diagnosis meant and what recommendations to make for these kids. The internet and Google were not developed yet. A person had to dial “411” to find a phone number or look through the “Yellow Pages” phone book for an address or specialty. The world did not have easy access to information.
I was a very young mom with two children 18 months apart. My husband was out of town at a medical convention when I left our pediatrician’s office that day, and I had to wait until I returned home to use a phone to tell him about the news I just received. I could tell from the silence on the other end of the phone that he was concerned. We spent the next several months trying to get into Miami Children’s hospital for neuropsych testing. Only a handful of places offered neurposych testing and there was a several month wait. We finally got the testing done and recommendations were made. Then the shocking medical bills started to pour in. Our health insurance was not covering any of the testing, speech therapy, occupational therapy or social groups that had been recommended for our son. My husband and I already had overwhelming school loans and didn’t know where we were going to get the money to fund this journey we were on now. They recommended that our son get speech and OT twice per week. We traveled to 2 different clinic locations 4 times per week to get my son the help that he needed. I had to drag my daughter along to every appointment with us. I spent a lot of time at these clinics and it was now a new way of life for us. My husband was starting up his new practice and I was absolutely consumed with taking care of my 2 young children. The stress was starting to take a toll on us. When I wasn’t traveling to clinics for therapy or working in the office, I was on the phone arguing with insurance companies to get my son’s therapy covered. I had no help or support from the therapy clinic’s staff or the pediatrician’s office. Quite frankly, they didn’t know how to help in those areas. They just knew about treatment. I learned to advocate for our child and eventually got the insurance coverage I needed and found a pediatric therapy clinic 45 minutes away that offered OT and SLP in the same location. I sat through every session and worked at home with my child every day. My son has grown up since then and has become an amazing social and successful person. He has exceeded all of our expectations.
I think how different our lives could have been if NSPT existed back then, if we had an insurance advocate to help us with those overwhelming insurance claims. How wonderful it would have been to have an FCA help me with the coordinating of sessions and disciplines. I needed a comforting voice on the other end of that phone when I had to explain the diagnosis that was just delivered to me. I needed a therapist who would have spent a few minutes with me after each session to recap what was going on or call me later when she saw that I was holding back tears during the session, wondering if my child was ever going to communicate with peers or learn to read. How awesome it would have been for my pediatrician to know what progress my child was making. How beneficial it would have been to be able to go to a website and read blogs about what condition my child had or some ideas on how to work with him. How much we could have used a recommendation or cross referral to a social worker to try to help keep our family together and coach a new mom through an unfamiliar diagnosis. I just needed some peace of mind.
This is what we offer at NSPT for our families! I cannot be more proud about the wonderful work our neuropsychologists, insurance specialists, FCA’s and incredibly talented therapists offer our families. Our family’s and children’s lives would be very different if we were not able to give them this high level of excellent therapy and customer service. We truly give our families peace of mind every step of the way! I know that because that is exactly what was missing from our lives 21 years ago. I didn’t know what we were missing until I saw it happen here at NSPT! My son did reach his full potential and I am very proud of him and our family for getting him there. A little peace of mind could have really gone a long way back then.
Thanks to all of you for helping to give our family’s peace of mind every step of the way!
Take Responsibility for Your Growth
After nearly a decade of working 120 hours per week as a full time OB/GYN (no exaggeration), I could deliver babies and perform surgeries in a state of unconscious competency. Up until that point in my life, my educational pathway was prescribed and delivered to me, via medical school and residency training. In 2004, I transitioned to full time CEO of North Shore Pediatric Therapy. That transition was scarier than my first emergency C-Section. For the emergency C-Section, I at least knew all the steps to follow. I knew that if I operated according to plan, the outcome was guaranteed at 99% success. As a new CEO, I had no education in business, no recipe for success, and no experience. However, I did have instilled into me a powerful work ethic, willingness to take risk and make mistakes, and appreciation for the power of learning. After all, that is how anyone becomes a doctor, or any health-related professional, for that matter. I decided that I was going to help Deborah build a successful, multi-disciplinary clinic…one that would have a “great name” in the future, and change the lives of thousands of children.
I began reading lots of business books, a habit I have kept until today. I enlisted many mentors over the years, some free, and some I paid handsomely for. I joined a group for CEOs to meet with monthly, and serve as my informal advisory board. I hired business consultants for various aspects of growing the company. I surrounded myself with great people who also wanted to learn and grow successfully. I signed up for classes and learned everything from web marketing to insurance coding, to pivot tables in Quickbooks. I constantly reflected on areas in which I needed to improve, and sought help in those areas. Most importantly, I took responsibility for my own growth. There is no prescribed path to becoming a CEO, like there is to becoming an OB/GYN. However, I will argue that while there is a prescribed path to becoming an OB/GYN, the pathway to becoming a great OB/GYN is completely dependent on the individual to take responsibility for his or her continued growth and learning. As an OB/GYN, some of the ways I continued to learn was by volunteering to give Grand Rounds lectures, mentoring medical students, joining as a guest expert to a Spanish radio medical show, volunteering as the media contact to appear on Spanish news for hot topics, CEU events, and regular reading of medical topics. I also took risks to perform the newer, more advanced procedures that others were not comfortable doing.
My message in all of this to you is to take responsibility for your growth. If you don’t, then no one will. And if you do, my story is proof that you really can do anything in life, as long as you are willing to work very hard for it, take some risks, and never stop learning. That is why our first Core Value is Non-Stop Growth.
Here are some practical pointers to help you to keep growing:
- Participate in a learning group with co-workers
- Work in a place where others are striving to learn and grow continuously
- Have one major learning experience each quarter. This could be something like attending a conference, taking a class, reading a powerful book, watching a webinar…
- Give yourself a “performance review.” Reflect on your own growth and performance. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and what you should focus on in the coming quarter or year.
- Take risks to learn and try newer procedures or challenging cases
- Read a books regularly. Have a set time for them on a daily basis.
- Seek a mentor
- Take on a fieldwork student
- Volunteer to write blogs, give webinars, or seminars
- Volunteer to take on other responsibilities in the company to broaden your capabilities.
“Responsibility for learning belongs to the student, regardless of age” –Robert Martin
A Care Package for Brain Surgery
As told by Ashley Upton
“One of our kiddos (who has now become a clinic favorite) underwent brain surgery yesterday. One of her therapists, Rachel Goode, put together a bundle of gifts for her. Included in the cutest of cat bags was a bundle of her favorite things, fun toys, and a thoughtful card that Rachel shared with us to sign. All of this will be delivererd straight to the little champion! I cannot wait for Rachel to share in this family’s smiles, and we all wish this little one all the best in her recovery!!”
A Special Birthday
As told by Dana Pais
I’d like to recognize Ashley Yoke who created a magic moment for her client. Her client had a birthday coming up and was very excited for it, sharing his excitement with Ashley in the session prior to his birthday. Ashley decided to set up a birthday scavenger hunt throughout the clinic during his next session, particularly since her client was very interested in detectives. As he walked around the clinic to complete the scavenger hunt, other therapists interacted with him, helping him with the clues and wishing him a happy birthday. At the end of the scavenger hunt, her client was led into a therapy room filled with balloons and a present. He was very excited and had a great time completing his birthday scavenger hunt activity!”
Athena– still in progress. Looking into another practice management system for all billing, clinical notes, collections, scheduling, etc. Proposal stage in progress.
Blossom Book Club– working on creating a webpage for our team members to learn about the Blossom Book Club and how to participate.
Culture Video Strategy– developing a strategy to get a high number of views on our Culture video.
June, 2013 was an exciting time for Chicago hockey fans, as the Chicago Blackhawks had just won the Stanley Cup. I was especially excited to be in Chicago when they won since I was out of state for grad school when they previously won in June of 2010. A couple of months after the championship in 2013 I got even better news. I was going to get to see the Stanley Cup in person! Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Blackhawks, lives in Winnetka, where my husband works as a firefighter/paramedic. Rocky Wirtz spent part of his day with the Stanley Cup hosting a party in his backyard. His wife stopped by the fire station a few weeks prior to the event to invite the whole department and their families to attend. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience to get to see, touch and take pictures with the Stanley Cup. Or at least I thought it was a once in a lifetime experience…
Fast-forward a couple of years to June, 2015 when the Blackhawks won their next championship. Not long after, I was excited to hear that I was going to get to see the Stanley Cup yet again! And this time, Rocky Wirtz was going to bring the Stanley Cup to the Winnetka Fire Station where he would host a private event for the firefighters, police officers, and their families. Not only did I get to see and take pictures with the Stanley Cup yet again, I also got to meet Rocky Wirtz this time and snap a picture with him! I don’t think there are many people who get to see the Stanley Cup once, let alone twice, in their lives, and I feel very fortunate to be one of those people (although I wouldn’t complain if it did happen a third time)!
This Month’s Birthdays:
- 11/01 Rubinstein, Debra
- 11/01 Turner, Mary
- 11/02 Isaac, Crystal
- 11/02 Rohlfing, Abby
- 11/03 Russin, Antonia
- 11/03 Yoke, Ashley
- 11/04 Mackay, Elizabeth
- 11/05 Nitekman, Rachel
- 11/06 Skogfeldt, Cory
- 11/07 Rashidianfar, Sima
- 11/11 Zajaczkowski, Monica
- 11/12 Phelan, Shannon
- 11/14 Jones, Stephanie
- 11/16 Schneider, Beth
- 11/16 Valdes, Gabrielle
- 11/20 Barabasz, Kristin
- 11/24 Kilstein, Olga
- 11/24 Schoen, Brittany
- 11/25 Margaritondo, Anne Marie
- 11/26 Gotkowski, Deanna
- 11/26 Siegel, Brett
- 11/27 Summer, Megan
- 11/29 Lewis, Leida J.
Michael J. Fox Models the First Self-Lacing Nike:
Look Who’s New:
Lisa Rife-Holt | LCSW-Evanston
Lisa Rife-Holt has been hired as an hourly LCSW for the Evanston clinic. Her official start date is 10/5/15. Lisa graduated from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC and has 13 years of experience providing individual and family therapy. She also has experience working in mental health clinics, therapeutic school settings and in Early Intervention to provide support in preschools and in the home. Lisa has a family of her own and is looking forward to working in an outpatient clinical setting. She enjoys collaboration and believes strongly in the multidisciplinary team. Lisa has great clinical skills and a calm, comforting, yet confident spirit. She loves working with children and believes in the importance of going above and beyond for clients. I think she may have found the perfect place to work! We are delighted to welcome her to NSPT!
Abigail Hansell | SLP-Evanston
Abigail Hansell has been hired as a full-time SLP for the Evanston clinic. Her official start date is 9/24/15. Abbie lives in Evanston and is a recent graduate of Northwestern University. She has a passion for foreign language and has studied conversational and literary French for 8 years. Bon appétit! (that’s the only French phrase I could think of) Abbie met with us previously before she became licensed, so we have had an opportunity to spend time with her over the course of a couple of months. She has interviewed with several teams and visited several clinics. Everyone who meets her says she would be a great fit at NSPT so I am thrilled that she will now have a home in Evanston. Abbie is thoughtful and warm. She has a bright personality and kind demeanor. We are delighted to welcome her to NSPT!
Tim Mucha | Marketing Coordinator-Des Plaines
Tim is now working out of Des Plaines Full-Time as a marketing associate. Tim graduated from Roosevelt University with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. After graduation, he worked full time at a creative agency, located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, doing graphic design, web design, social media and brand consulting. His most recent role was at the Schaumburg Park District where he covered a broad range of responsibilities including website management, social media, e-mail, public relations, photography and videography.
As for marketing passions, Tim really enjoys the digital/electronic marketing area. He loves working on websites and writing social media communications/engaging with followers
Tim was drawn to NSPT for two reasons:
“The opportunity to help people has always been a passion of mine. I think it’s important to help others when you can and the opportunity to do that full time is something that has always attracted me. The second is that the role will have a large focus on digital marketing. It’s giving me the opportunity to focus my career on a part of marketing that I enjoy and can really work hard on.”
We, at NSPT were drawn to Tim because:
He comes with a great digital marketing and social media background. He also shows his desire to constantly learn more on his own. He takes classes, watches webinars and reads up on the latest books/articles to stay ahead of the marketing game. Lastly, Tim’s personality seems to align perfectly with our company culture. He is a self-starter, driven to get positive results, outgoing and excited to do whatever he can to be a part of our team.
Personally, Tim enjoys spending time with his family. He has been married for two years to his wife who he started dating in high school. He enjoys running and has been doing it for 11 years. Tim tries to eat healthy but will never say no if someone asks to go to Gene and Jude’s. He also loves golfing and fantasy football.
Michael Lombardi | Behavior Therapist-Highland Park
Mike Lombardi has been hired as a part-time behavior therapist with a start date of 9/29/2015. He is currently a doctorate graduate student at Adler University. Mike worked as a naval flight officer for ten years. He saw the need for mental health services while in active duty and decided to go on to pursue his Doctorate of Clinical Psychology last year. Although he doesn’t have any experience in behavior therapy, he is eager to learn and make a difference in the lives of children. Mike is a very dedicated individual and is motivated to leverage ten years of military experience into a civilian workforce. He comes across as warm and nurturing with a motivation to see long-term results. Let’s welcome Mike to our NSPT family!!!!
Bridget Fleming | BCBA-Lake Bluff
Bridget Fleming has accepted the full time position of BCBA for Lake Bluff! Her official start date is 10/27/15, if all goes according to plan. Bridget currently resides in Massachusetts and has been looking for the right opportunity to move back to Illinois. She has family in Lake Forrest, so Lake Bluff is a great option. Bridget has been a BCBA for 5 years. She has spent the majority of her career in the school setting working with children from pre K – 12th grade. Bridget has also worked as a facilitator for early childhood to help transition children from EI into the public school setting. In addition, she has worked as a BCBA providing home therapy. Bridget is going to be a fantastic addition to the team. She knew exactly what she was looking for and wanted to be as certain about us as we were about her. We are delighted to welcome her to NSPT!
Sumita Singh | Behavior Therapist
Sumita Singh has been hired to join the ABA department. Her official start date is 11/12/15. Sumita has been working as a lead therapist at autism home support services for two years and is eager to continue her journey to a BCBA. She has completed her classes and supervision and will sit for her exam in November. In the interim, she will join NSPT and begin working with our BCBA team to provide great service to children and families. Sumita is extremely passionate about her work and loves kids. She has gained valuable experiences from her work as a lead therapist and will be another great addition to the ABA team. Sumita lives in Bartlett, IL and is excited to help us expand services to families in the northwest suburbs. We are delighted to welcome her aboard!
Melissa Walters | Behavior Therapist-Lincolnwood
Melissa Walters has been hired as a behavior therapist. Her official start date is 10/15/15. Melissa is currently seeking a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Adler University. She completed her masters in counseling at A&M in Alabama. It was in Alabama that Melissa worked as a behavior therapist for several years and began her training to become a Registered Behavior Technician. Melissa moved to Chicago this summer and wants to continue working with children as a behavior therapist while going to school. We are delighted to welcome her to NSPT!
Eitan Delrahim | Behavior Therapist-Glenview
Eitan Delrahim has been hired as a behavior therapist for Glenview and the surrounding areas. His official start date is 10/15/15. Eitan graduated from Michigan State with a bachelor’s in Psychology. He has always loved working with children and has spent time as a camp counselor, life guard, and a teacher’s aid at Keshet. Eitan is upbeat, personable, warm, talented, kind, giving, thoughtful, understanding, courageous, enthusiastic, devoted, patient, and charming. Just ask his sister…. Rachel Goode! Yes, that’s right. We now have a brother/ sister duo on staff. Could this be the first??? We are delighted to welcome Eitan to NSPT! J
Jennifer Casale | BCBA-Des Plaines
Jennifer Casale has been hired as a fulltime BCBA for Des Plaines, and surrounding areas. Her start date is 11/30/15. Jennifer has been a BCBA for a year and is joining us from Instructional ABA Consultants in Naperville. Jennifer has experience working in home and in clinic settings. She likes collaboration and is exited to work with many disciplines. She first learned of NSPT from her friend, Jackie Ansbro, whom she said “always has such positive things to say about NSPT! I knew I had to apply!” Jennifer is upbeat and friendly. She has supervised lots of BCBA students for a practicum program, and through this work, discovered that she loves training! We are delighted to welcome her to NSPT!
Jennifer (Jenn) Dahl Crane | Social Worker-Lake Bluff
Jennifer Crane has been hired as an hourly SW for the Lake Bluff clinic. Her official start date is 10/13/15. Jennifer graduated from Loyola and has worked with diverse populations for 7 years in a school setting. She has a long history of working with a multi-disciplinary team and is knowledgeable in using play therapy, CBT, developing behavioral plans and treating children of varied ages with a variety of diagnoses. Jennifer is a proud mother of two adorable little boys. She has taken some time off to spend with them at home, and is now looking forward to an opportunity to begin treating again on a part time basis. She is going to be a wonderful addition to the Lake Bluff team!
Jennifer says you can call her Jenni or Jenn, as she will answer to anything. We are delighted to welcome her to NSPT!
Melissa Arciniega | Behavior Therapist-Hillel Torrah
Melissa Arciniega has been hired as an hourly behavior therapist to provide support at Hillel Torah. Melissa has worked as substitute teacher and a paraprofessional in a special education classroom. She will be an amazing addition to the team. She is also bilingual in English/ Spanish. We are delighted to welcome her to NSPT!
Elizabeth Lease | Behavior Therapist-Glenview
Elizabeth Lease has been hired as a behavior therapist for Glenview and the surrounding clinics. Her official start date is 10/8/15. Elizabeth received her BA in Art Therapy/ Psychology from Capital University in Columbus, OH. Elizabeth is currently attending Adler University to get her MAT in Art Therapy. She works at the JCC Chicago in the afternoons to provide supervision to children and implement behavior strategies for kiddos who need extra support. Elizabeth is very excited to begin her journey at NSPT and we are very excited to welcome her to the team.
A few notes on blogs. Moving forward, we are making a change to how we collect blogs for publication. The new procedure is being worked out, but there will no longer be a blog team and instead we will look to all of our experts (you) for great blog content. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, here are a few of our awesome blogs from October:
Find the Right Halloween Costume For a Child With Tactile Sensitivities by Mary Kate Mulry
Spooktacular Speech and Language Activities by Katie Hesch
Simple Tips to Prepare Your Child With Autism for Halloween by Rachael Smetana
The Dangers of Too Much Exercise in Kids by Andrea Ragsdale
Events and Happenings:
- Lindsey Moyer has organized a holiday toy drive. Encourage your families to drop a new toy at any or our clinics. The final collection date is December 11th.
- Lindsey Moyer and Liz Mackay will be presenting our next Live Webinar | Sensory Needs in Preschool and the Early Elementary Years on Tuesday, November 10th from 8-9 pm. Please share and join us. Over 600 people are already registered for this wonderful event.
- Check out David Michael in this Fortune.com article: 5 Ways to Avoid Commoditization.
- Note our new Blossom Blast URL: BlossomBlast.news. Visit here for all of our Blossom Blasts!
Congratulations to the following teams for completing their mentorship programs:
- Lauren Kastan and her mentor, Emily Robin
- Ashley Yoke and her mentor, Mike Meltzer